Keith Gary: ‘I’m proud to say I was a Steeler’
Posted July 2, 2014
Former Steelers’ defensive lineman Keith Gary provides an update on what he has been doing, as well as talking about his playing time with the Steelers.
Catching up with former Steelers defensive end Keith Gary, the team’s number one draft pick in 1981, who played for the team from 1983-88 after not signing and playing two seasons with the Montreal Alouettes.
What are you doing now?
“I have a teenage son, Ian, who is the joy of my life. I spend as much time with him as I can.
“I am working at a transitional home for women and children in the Washington, DC area, which has been very rewarding for me. We help transition them from some being homeless or incarcerated to get back on their feet and find housing and job opportunities.”
How satisfying is that?
“It’s great. The women range in age from 18-24. Fortunately when I was a young man I had the support of my family and friends. To see them coming through now at 18, 19, some with two or three kids homeless it has to be extremely difficult for them. It’s great we can be there to assist them to get back on their feet and be productive citizens in the community and being able to raise their kids in good, healthy environments.”
Back to your son, is he into football?
“Ian is not a sports guy. I don’t know if that is a father who was a professional athlete worst nightmare, is that your son is not interested in sports. I love him, he is a great kid. But I am going to try and get him involved in Steelers training camp. If he spends a couple of weeks there he is really going to like football or he won’t. We’ll find out. I am hoping he likes it. He has great size. At 16 he is 6-2, 240. He is a big kid. I just want him to be happy and successful in whatever he decides to do.”
What was training camp like for you?
“For me it was a great experience. Fortunately I was a first-round draft pick. No great things came along with that back then. Chuck Noll was my coach and things were a little bit different. The days were long, a little more difficult, very competitive. Being a first-round pick people had high expectations of me. It was kind of challenging, but very rewarding. It was great to compete with your other teammates.”
What was it like to be one of Chuck Noll’s first-round picks?
“It’s an honor as they collectively as a team chose me. I was one of the first defensive linemen chosen since Joe Greene in 1969 so that was a big honor. Just the experience to be coached by Chuck, and the players I played with. A lot of the guys who won four Super Bowls were on their way out when I was on my way in. To get a mix of both of that, it helped me. All of that was huge for me.”
Was it intimidating at first having all of those big names on the team?
“It was a little intimidating at first, but once I competed in training camp and did well and was a part of that I fit in well and they accepted me and it was a collective team effort to win.”
What was it like to play for Chuck Noll?
“He was a no-nonsense guy but extremely fair. He treated everyone the same. He knew every day you stepped on the field, whether he was there or not, you had to work hard. He learned about it if you didn’t. He didn’t miss anything. Everyone had respect for him. It was a joy to play for him.”
What was the fondest memory of your playing days?
“The year we had the run in the playoffs. We went out to Denver and beat John Elway. We went to Miami and lost in the AFC Championship game. Every game competing to win and being a part of that was a great experience. It was a lot of fun.”
What did it mean to play for the Steelers?
“Here I am maybe 25 years retired but wherever I go I can mention I played for the Steelers and people treat me like it was just yesterday that I played. The foundation they built here over the years is great. I’m very proud to say I was a Steeler. I talk to other guys in the league who played for other teams and they don’t get near the support I get here from the Steelers. Whatever it is I need, I feel like I can call and I will get the help I need and they will point me in the right direction.”
Click here to watch a video interview with Keith Gary at Steelers.com.
Photographs courtesy of WRJ Photographics (NLLHOF)
Kevin Keene, Negro League Legends Hall of Fame Youth Ambassador (NLLHOF)
James “Jake” Sanders Negro League player Kansas City Monarchs
Sean Mungin, Negro League Legends Hall of Fame Youth Ambassador (NLLHOF)
Unveiling of right side featuring Work of Art by renowned artist Kadir Nelson
Dwayne Renal Sims, Founder NLLHOF, Umpire Wayne K Travers, East Team Vintage catcher Lawrence, James “Jake” Sanders, Umpire Edward Black, Umpire Jarvis Massenberg
TIME OUT: AN OPEN LETTER TO MY FRIEND NBA PIONEER EARL LLOYD
By Harold Bell
Earl, I know it is always great to visit home and see old friends and family in Alexandria, Virginia. They really turned out to honor one of their own. Congratulations for a job well done and a game well played.
My visit to Alexandria to be a part of that tribute and salute was done with mixed emotions. I have been confused about how our relationship went from “Sugar to Do-Do.”
I have known you for over 50+ years as a “Big Brother & Friend.” In those 50+ years you and I have had discussions on your first marriage, children, your NBA playing career, Dave Bing/Detroit Pistons, the politics of sports and life after the NBA. Many of those discussions were of a private and personal nature. Those personal matters and discussions have never been uttered by me again. It is called loyalty.
When folks had forgotten your contributions to the NBA I carried “The Earl Lloyd Torch” on the airwaves and in writing in the 90s.
There were many naysayers and so-called basketball historians like Sonny Hill, Howie Evans and our friend Bighouse Gaines to name just a few. They refused to recognize your historic NBA achievements.
You didn’t ask me to carry the message or the torch and neither did Willie Wood (NFL) who was in a similar situation, but I did because I felt that is what friends are for (especially media friends).
Red Auerbach and I had a special relationship that some people are not able to comprehend to this day. Red and Dotie were two of the most unique human beings that I have ever known. They treated me and Hattie like family.
It was Red who set the record straight on my talk show “Inside Sports” about Earl Lloyd and his place in NBA history. The naysayers finally got the message!
I then asked the most powerful man in the NBA if he would assist me in a campaign to get you inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame, he said “Let’s do it.”
The campaign kicked off on “Inside Sports” and press releases were mailed to sports media outlets all over the country. There was also a Black History Tribute to you hosted by my non-profit organization Kids In Trouble at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D. C.
Remember the big time CBS sportscaster giving you a check at the tribute? You looked at me and said, “I hope this didn’t break him” and we both laughed.
The Washington Times newspaper followed with a story on page one with your picture and Red’s as it related to your historical NBA first.
During NBA All-Star Weekend here in DC in 2000, I organized and coordinated “Earl Lloyd Day” in Alexandria and followed up with a reception and tribute to you at the Bohemia Caverns in DC.
It was the only activity that Red Auerbach participated in during NBA All-Star weekend.
This was the same weekend my friend and the brother who hired me to become the first Nike Sports and Marketing Rep here in DC John Phillips took me for $15,000.
Frito Lay sponsored the tribute and salute to you with a $30,000 donation that was supposed to be split between our two non-profit organizations.
Since we could not get the check made out to the two different organizations for $15,000 each I agreed to have the check made out in the name of John’s organization. My BAD!
John Phillips took the money and flew in 8 members of his family and friends from the West Coast. They all stayed at a 5 Star Marriott Hotel on Wisconsin Avenue NW and he ran up a bill in the restaurant for thousands of dollars.
The members of his entourage each had a ticket for the NBA All-Star Game. Hattie and I watched the game at home. I am still having trouble trying to explain that charade to her.
Guess who was supposed to be watching my back—our friend Sam Jones. In the end he pretended like he didn’t have clue. Sam is a nice guy but he has been dangerous for a long time. He sits on the fence. I ignored his short comings because John Thompson was the messenger (Brutus of the sports world).
John Phillips can thank Al Attles and Sonny Hill that he left DC with peace and blessings. I felt like I had been raped and until this day (10 years later) no one has asked me what really happen!
I watched the CIAA disrespect you but I was really disappointed when I discovered that legendary coach the late Bighouse Gaines had also fallen for the lame excuse for your exclusion.
I broached the question at his breakfast table one Sunday morning in Winston-Salem after the homecoming game. I asked: “Why is it that Earl Lloyd is not in the CIAA Hall of Fame?”
I was floored by his response, he said: “The Selection Committee says he is not eligible because West Virginia State is no longer a part of the CIAA!” The “Player Haters” are rampant in our community!
I could not believe what I had just heard. Earl Monroe, Jack DeFares, Teddy Blount and others were sitting at the table. I challenged him to do the right thing and evidently he did. You were later voted into the hall.
I see the CIAA Hall of Fame is not listed in your career basketball highlights—-I understand!
Earl, I was disappointed in a conversation that I had with you immediately after your induction into the NBA Hall of Fame. You said your son’s campaigning was the reason for your successful induction!
Everyone I have supported in whatever their endeavor was done from the heart and nothing was expected in return.
A big problem in our community is that we refuse to give credit where credit is due.
Earl, you have “been there and done that” and you should understand exactly where I am coming from.
What you did to me and whatever you are saying, I would have expected that from chumps like John Thompson, James Brown, Sugar Ray Leonard, Michael Wilbon, Sam Jones, Adrian Dantley and Adrian Branch. They thrive on keeping “He said, she said” going and talking behind other people’s backs and never looking them in the eye. They are what I call “Smiling Faces Telling Lies or Back Stabbers.”
Unlike you, each of them came through “Inside Sports” before their 15 minutes of fame. I was there for them.
Loyalty, integrity and honesty are lost character traits in our community. We are still trying to blame white folks for our problems, but we are the problem. Every black face you see is not a brother and every face you see is not the enemy! A hard lesson learned.
When I approached your wife Charlie to say hello she was cold as ice. She does not even know me, so whatever she knows about me must have come from the company that she keeps.
Earl, when you said on the John Thompson Show, “Harold Bell maybe controversial but I have yet to hear anyone call him a lie.” True, I have burned some bridges, but some bridges needed to be burn.
My grandmother told me a long time ago “Son always tell the TRUTH. A LIE will change a thousand times—the TRUTH never changes” and that is why I am sticking with the truth.
In closing, this has been on my heart and I needed to get it off. I should not have to defend myself or my actions when it comes to Earl Lloyd. You are right I have a great wife as you have observed. She also has a great husband who keeps it real despite the naysayers. I wish you much success with your new book but you have got to keep it real. If there is no credit due don’t give any.
Harold Bell is a sports talk radio and television pioneer who founded and hosted “Inside Sports” from Washington, DC. You can learn more about Harold by visiting his official web site http://hbsportslegends.com.
Remembering Former Heavyweight Champion Greg Page
In 2004, Gary Johnson spoke with former WBA Heavyweight Champion Greg Page in an interview that many boxing experts and reporters claim is one of the best interviews ever conducted with the former champion.
Greg passed away on April 27, 2009, at the age of 50 at his Louisville, Kentucky home. In his final fight in 2001, Page suffered a a brain injury and during post-fight surgery suffered a stroke. Greg Page was 42 and had a 58-16-1 career record going into the fight where he reportedly earned $1,500.00 for fighting 24 year-old Dale Crowe at Peels Palace in Erlanger, Ky.
Page went down after 10 rounds and didn’t get up.
A National Golden Gloves and National AAU champion in 1978, Page was a talented boxer who may not have gotten all he could have out of his skill set, but he did win the WBA Heavyweight title in 1984 with an eighth round TKO of Gerrie Coetzee. Page lost the belt in his first defense to Tony Tubbs in 1985, but continued to fight until 2001. Among his victims in the ring were George Chaplin, Stan Ward, Alfredo Evangelista, Scott LeDoux, Jimmy Young, James Tillis, Renaldo Snipes, James Broad, Bonecrusher Smith and Tim Witherspoon.
Rest in Peace Champ!
Click here to read Gary Johnson’s 2004 landmark interview with former WBA Heavyweight Champion Greg Page. Many boxing experts have reported this as one of the best interviews ever conducted with the former champion.
Hard Times for Evander Holyfield
Former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield says he’s not broke. According to media reports he has grossed over $248 million in his career as a boxer. During one six-fight stretch (1996-99), he earned $107 million.
What happens to that kind of money? We’ll let’s take a quick look.
His 54,000 sq. ft. home that sits on 235 acres of land is in foreclosure. One of the biggest homes in the Southeast, it boasts 109 rooms, including 11 bedrooms, 17 bathrooms, a bowling alley, Olympic-size pool and a stable stocked with a half-dozen horses. The house is reportedly worth $10 million and is scheduled to be auctioned next month.
His child support payments for his 11 children are reportedly $500,000 a year. One ex-wife is complaining publicly that the former champ has missed two payments. At 45 years of age and having had three marriages, Holyfield told the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper, “I’m not broke — I’m just not liquid.”
The former champ has had success inside the boxing ring. The same cannot be said for his experience outside of the ring, especially with his business deals. Holyfield business interests, include his management company (Holyfield Management, Inc.), his clothing company (Warrior Properties), his record company (Real Deal Records), and the failed cable TV network (MBC) with co-owner, famed attorney Willie Gary.
Up Close and Personal by Harold Bell
ESPN’s airing of “Black Magic” chronicling the rich history of black basketball in America was a buzzer beating jump shot to win and a controversial foul call at the end the game to lose. It was also the most watched documentary in the history of ESPN television history.
The first segment aired in 1.2 million homes beating the old record of 1.1 million. The four hour two-part television show carried black basketball from the playgrounds, high schools, colleges and on to its final destination—the NBA. This brought full circle the hopes and dreams of most black athletes, a life in the fast lane of professional sports. For some it was their only way out.
The show’s title, “Black Magic” was the footprints in the sand of the man who revolutionized offensive guard play in basketball—Earl Monroe. He is also a part-time magician. I found the show to be enlightening and educational even though I lived most of it. I was a student/athlete and played football and basketball for the legendary Clarence “Bighouse” Gaines at Winston-Salem State. During my era (59-63) I was the only athlete under 6’5 he permitted to play two sports. Tim Autry and Emit Gil my football teammates could not chew bubble gum and dribble at the same time but they were tall. He called Tim and Emit “My Special Effects.”
To read the complete story click here to visit the Black Men In America.com Sports Page. You can also visit Harold Bell’s official web site “Legends of Inside Sports.”
The Souls of Black Baseball:
Voices from the Field of Dreams Deferred
An Oral History Project by Dr. Bob Allen
Veteran of the Negro League Baseball era, catcher for the Philadelphia Stars, Bill “Ready” Cash can spin out a story that takes away your own breath as he tells it. Like the one about the 28 day bus trip the team took in the late 40’s: going through towns 75-80 miles an hour because they had to make the schedule; blowing out motors and getting speeding tickets in the bargain; playing games along the way from Philadelphia, winding south 1900 miles away to Tyler, Texas.
On the field, in 105 degree weather, ready for the dressing rooms, but not allowed to use them. Had to go under the stands to dress. Only allowed a short run around the field for warm-up as an old guy hollered from the stands, “nigger, I’m gonna shoot you.” Says Bill: “We still had to play ball. Out of those 28 days we were away from home, we was in bed four hours. All the rest of the time we slept in the bus, traveling.”
Cash continues the story, taking you on the northbound loop back home; like always, stopping now and then after games, at places that were open to get food, sandwiches, mayonnaise, meat, sodas, to eat on the way. Games along the way, night and day. Cash recalls: “One Sunday we played in Birmingham. They had a little kid 16 years old and his father didn’t allow him to play, goin away with the team. He only played on Sundays. He was battin’ third. Piper Davis was the manager. I said, Piper, you’ve got this kid hittin’ third?’ He said, you’ll find out.’ We were tied 6-6 in the seventh inning and he came up. Boy, I just knew we were gonna throw a ball by him. He got 4 for 5 against us that day. I hit a double off the scoreboard. The next guy hit a long fly to center field, he went back against the fence and caught it. I tagged up and went to third base. When I got there, the ball was waitin’ on me. That little 16 year old kid was Willie Mays. Boy, he could hit, he could …of course you know all about him…he could do it.”
This and many other stories, some tragic and sad, others side-splitting hilarious, are part of and emerging from an oral history project by Dr. Bob Allen, a free lance writer and researcher, and former teacher at the Pennsylvania State University. Allen’s travel throughout the northeast in the last six years, and his intention to visit and interview on film every surviving player from the Negro Leagues, was based on a three part goal: to preserve, promote, and promulgate the history and stories of Negro League Baseball.
To date, the project has collected 366.75 hours of film footage of Negro Leagues histories. Yet, there is more to be done and further support to continue the project is needed. A detailed description of the project is available to all interested. In summarizing the project, Allen notes:
… without such histories being recorded, getting the actors to recall the play, and enabling future generations to see and understand the scene of the past “In time, we forget who we are.” As players from the old baseball Negro Leagues probe the scars and remember the joys of their finest hours amidst the apartheid at the heart of the nation’s pastime, this project will memorialize who they were so that we can better understand who we might be. Hopefully, it will make a special contribution to this important history of sport and American society; be of help and of use to veteran historians of the sport; and bring to life and keep alive the lessons and challenges we can all take up from this fascinating history.
For further information, enquiries, and suggested contacts to help Dr. Allen locate and interview players, or to provide needed support to continue the project, please be in touch with:
1007 Golfview Ave. #24
State College, Pa. 16801814-237-9471